| Year 2004 Canonical Studies pp. 13-17
Notes Regarding Documentary and Procedural Aspects of
Favour of Faith Cases
(Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna)
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1. The Diocesan Bishop

The person competent to instruct favour of the faith cases are “the diocesan Bishop and those equivalent to him in law, or the eparchial bishop” (art.3); where the term Episcopus is used elsewhere in the norms, it is to be understood in light of article three.

It is the intention of the Norms that those matters which are attributed by name to the diocesan Bishop pertain only to him and to the others equivalent to him, excluding the vicar general and Episcopal vicar, “except by special mandate” (cf. can. 134 § 3). If the diocesan Bishop has given a special mandate to the vicar general or an Episcopal vicar, a copy of the mandate signed by the diocesan Bishop, duly dated and notarized in conformity with can. 474 should always be included among the documents.

2. Initiation of the Process

The commission or nomination of the Instructor, Defender of the Bond and Notary is to be given in writing, signed by the diocesan Bishop, dated and notarized. It may be given on a permanent basis or case by case. Since it makes the initiation of the process at the diocesan level, the commission is to be established before any testimony is received or research takes place.

3. The Votum

The Votum of the Bishop is likewise to be signed by the diocesan Bishop. This document, given on his pastoral authority, is to set forth his opinion of the case and the reasons which recommend it. Precise reference is to be made whether the condition for granting this favour have been met, along with any positive doubt which may arisen about the validity of the marriage (cf. artt. 10, 24). The Bishop should always give clear indications about the present condition of the parties and whether the petitioner has attempted a new marriage in any form or may be cohabiting with the third party (artt. 1, 4-5, 24). Fear of scandal arising from the concession of the favour or any doubt about the sincerity of conversion of the petitioner or intended spouse, or any particular difficulties regarding the manner in which the petitioner is fulfilling obligations arising from the former marriage should be settled before the case is submitted (cf. artt. 7 § 3, 9, 20).

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